It's been almost 30 years since Afrika Bambaataa helped birth hip hop music in the South Bronx, creating a movement that has crossed regional and cultural barriers. Most recently, the genre's latest iteration has shifted from 80's New York City discotheques and underground parties to mainstream Eastern Seaboard universities, taking shape in between Economics 101 lectures and midnight runs to the local bars.
Four artists have captured the eyes and ears of the music blogosphere and national radio stations, combining electronica beats fitting for an Ibiza night club with clever, caffeinated wordplay: Sam Adams, Chiddy Bang, Mike Posner and Kinetics and One Love. While attending an East Coast University isn't a prerequisite for being part of the club, it's certainly expedited their paths to popularity. Playing impromptu college sets, marketing music virally, generating exposure through hyper-local campus publications - all key ingredients in generating buzz.
Sam Adams - Some music just sounds better accessorized with multi-colored fake Ray Bans and throwback NBA jerseys, pulsating across a claustrophobic dance floor at the depths of a dilapidated college house. The Artist Presently Known as Boston's Boy is no exception. While the Trinity College upperclassman's claims to be a direct descendant of one of the chillest founding fathers remain uncertain, his ability to light up college campuses and drum up catchy lyrics and melodies is not. With over 100,000 Facebook fans and an Autotune rendition of Asher Roth's "I Love College" that's become a quick YouTube sensation, Sam's not going anywhere. Our picks: Coast to Coast, I Hate College (Remix), Driving Me Crazy.
> Chiddy Bang - The duo met at Drexel University in Philadelphia and have been remixing indie artists like MGMT, and Ellie Goulding while infusing their own layer of eloquent verse over the beats (incorporating Utah Jazz's Mehmet Okur into a track? Brilliant). If you missed them at Coachella, they've got some West Coast tour dates coming up this summer in support of their mix tape Air Swell. Our picks: Under the Sheets, Breakfast, Hey London
Mike Posner - After signing a major record deal with J Records in 2009, Mike decided to return to Duke University to wrap up his senior year and tour on the weekends. Smart move. "Cooler Than Me," the single off his second mixtape, is in the Billboard top 40 and he's planning on releasing a full length album this summer. Oh yeah, along with 42 Warped Tour dates and an appearance at Bonnaroo. And who said recent college grads can't find work? Our picks: Cooler Than Me (Gigamesh Remix), You Don't Have to Leave, Bring Me Down
Kinetics and One Love - Former Cornell University roommates Jeremy "Kinetics" Dussolliet and Tim "One Love" Sommers can now tack Warner Music songwriters to the top of their resumes. The duo wrote the original version of B.o.B's "Airplanes," which now sits comfortably as the number two song on Billboard Top 100 and recorded a Graduation Song featuring Wynter Gordon that pays homage to life on The Hill. The group has generated excitement with their latest release, "Fading Back to Normal," combining Kinetics' socially conscious lyrics with One Love's high-energy synth beats. Stay tuned for more electronica-infused hip hop and tour dates around New York City this summer. Our picks: Rings of Saturn, The New Colossus, The High Line